How will Trucks look in the future look?. Lets see some real examples of innovations and prototypes. The most important aspect is the energy source. The energetic crisis and the pollution are the two axles for the engineers of the future.
Westport Innovation, a company specializing in environmental technologies, recently implemented the High Pressure Direct Injection technology for diesel trucks. This technology consists of a liquefied natural gas powered truck to reduce the gas emissions and economizes the fuel. The trucks have 400 hp Cummins ISX engines with Exhaust Gas Recirculation. That results in a quiet, efficient and clean travel.
The company Daimler Chrysler in Germany is also working on the fuel use and no pollution engines. Blue Tec is the name of the new technology according to the Daimler Chrysler web site. This technology combines the engine design with the Selective Catalytic Reduction which is a system to reduce the nitrogen oxides emissions. Blue Tech is a diesel technology specially designed for the truck division of Mercedes Benz.
Some leave the fuel alternatives to others and go for the rest of the engine, especially the Department of Energy. The idea is to separate parts such as the pumps, the alternators, compressors and such from the engine. This way you can transform those parts from gas to full electric. A cooler engine compartment will extend the life of the engine. Also the independent electrical powered parts would work more precisely.
Big manufacturing companies are collaborating with the Department of Energy such as Caterpillar, Kenworth, Emerson and Engineered Machine Products. The prototype is installed on a Kenworth truck and the experts could eliminate more than 65 parts by more precise and reliable components.
Now on to driver control. In the recent Volvo Showcase, the company demonstrated its new ESP system which helps the driver do what he does best, drive. The system perceives the maneuvers of the drivers and corrects the movements of the truck by braking the wheels or brings down the power of the engine.
The ESP system includes three cameras installed on the driver’s cab and in the steering wheels. The cameras are in charge of watching for the drowsiness of the driver and the inconstant maneuvers and it produces a warning to the driver.
The steering systems are also targeted by the innovators. For example, SKF proposed an electromechanical steering system instead of the conventional hydraulic system. This invention consists in a sequence of signals that tell the actuator to steer the wheels. The action is confirmed or adjusted by sensors and informed back to the driver. The advantages of the electromechanical system are to eliminate the hydraulic fluids so there would be no more high pressure leaks and less noise in the driver’s cab.
These continuous changes and improvements in the truck industry still keep function as the number one focus. The replacement of the human driver by a mechanic one is still considerably far away. Fortunately, that’s something for the future.